WASHINGTON ― Michelle Obama sent an emotional message of hope to young people in her final address as first lady Friday.
“I want our young people to know that this country belongs to you ― to all of you, from every background and walk of life,” Obama said during an event at the White House.
Obama’s last address began with remarks about Terri Tchorzynski, the school counselor of the year. The first lady spoke about the importance of education, calling school counselors “heroes” and speaking about how knowledge can help people be “a positive force” in their communities.
But she wrapped up her final speech with a message about the importance of diversity. She spoke directly to immigrants, calling them “part of a proud American tradition that has made us the greatest country on earth.” She also praised diversity of faith, saying religious diversity “is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are.”
“Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter, or like you don’t have a place in our American story,” Obama said. “You do.”
Obama spoke about how hope has carried her and her husband, President Barack Obama, through their time in the White House. Obama previously said hope is “necessary” in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in December, when she noted that people were “feeling what not having hope feels like” after Donald Trump won the presidential election.
“It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise against the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country,” she said.
Obama said being first lady has been the greatest honor of her life.
“I hope I’ve made you proud,” she said.